Vegan Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

vegan fudgy black bean browniesI’ve made these brownies now about a gazillion times, and every time people are shocked to learn that they’re made from beans. When I make them and sell them at festivals, curious passersby will always stop and sample them. There are usually three groups of people I encounter when this happens. The Yes, I’ve heard of bean brownies before but I’ve never…; then there is the Beans? Oh wow I’ve gotta try these group; and then there is the third group, those who have tried them in the past and wave somebody new over to try them. Those people are my homies. They know a good thing when they taste it. Continue reading “Vegan Fudgy Black Bean Brownies”

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Rainbow (Unrainbow) Cookies

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Okay, so I don’t really know where to begin with this post because there is so much going on in this recipe. Besides the fact that I’ve wanted to create something like this since December 2013 (reasons why I will get to), this multifaceted dessert has layers (literally) of recipes, all of which I’ve intended to blog about before this deliciousness…is it a cookie? a bar? could it be made into a tart? Yes. Yes. And yes. Continue reading “Rainbow (Unrainbow) Cookies”

Apple Pie Granola

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This granola came to me in a dream the other night. Randomly, I’ll wake up with an answer to a question I’ve had or a new idea to use in the classroom. This time, however, it was an idea for granola using dried apples. I used my peanut butter granola recipe as a starting point, since it’s pretty popular and people seem to enjoy it. My mother, who has never been a fan of anything granola-related thoroughly enjoyed this granola. And when I asked her if I should try it again with apple butter or apple extract, she said No, it’s perfect! Not too sweet, not too crunchy, just right. So I took my granola-born-again mother’s word for it. Continue reading “Apple Pie Granola”

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls

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Having taken the year off from work to be with my little guy, visions of sugar plums and recipe tastings danced in my head. However, I’m lucky if I remember to make dinner. Period. Every day is filled with craziness and I have no idea where the hours go, and I absolutely love it. So those moments when I am able to make something new for my blog (and photograph it!) is just icing on the cake. I just sat down after a crazy day of making to-go lunches, playing with my 4 1/2 month old little dude, and having my upstairs gutted, and I gave myself two choices…work on that blog post that I started 3 days ago or continue reading that awesome book that came yesterday (I think I’m on page 2). Cleaning was off the table since that is the reason I never take naps when Oliver does. So I decided to treat myself tonight. By the way, the book is In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney and it’s quite inspirational. Anyway, I digress… I’m going to continue writing this blog post even though I’m half expecting Mr. Oliver to wake up any minute since he wakes up All. The. Time. He’s lucky he’s adorable. Everyone asks me if he’s a good boy. I tell them he’s the best. The sweetest. The most precious. Then they say…He’s a good sleeper? And I reply, Oh no, he’s the worst. I was going to wait until the 6 month mark to begin introducing foods for reasons I’ve only read about; however, I’m second guessing that in hopes that (perhaps) he’ll sleep better. (Some swear by it; some say it doesn’t work. Your thoughts? Comment below please!) I realize that most of my posts lately have been about motherhood, but it’s tough not to write about it since it consumes my every waking moment…and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Okay, onto the recipe. Continue reading “Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls”

Doubled Dipped Pecan Clusters And Just A Few Random (Pregnancy) Thoughts!

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Thanks to some of you who reached out to me, I was able to see that this recipe (posted last year) was no longer available. I wasn’t able to retrieve it, so I decided to remake it using pecans instead of walnuts. You can find the recipe for these raw, vegan, caramel clusters beneath these random pregnancy thoughts by yours truly.

  • I’m trying to drink lots of water – I carry around my 74 oz water jug at work and at home, and now it’s just a habit to take swigs of it throughout the day. I try to drink one and a half of these a day.
  • Umm, maternity pants are the greatest invention ever and I want to wear them for the rest of my life! I feel like I’m wearing leggings everyday. On a similar note, I was not loving the belly band so much. It’s useful in that it’s economical because you can still wear your old pants, but I felt like I was walking around with my pants around my knees all day long. Really cute.
  • I dowloaded all of my pictures from my camera onto my computer and then saved them to shutterfly. I figured what better time to do it before I’m busy with baby? And now it won’t take 10 minutes for my camera to upload the thousands upon thousands of photos I had (most of which were food photos – 34 pictures of hummus? I’m such a loser!).
  • I can’t wait to get into the new house where the lighting is so much better! I have so many food blogging ideas of which I can’t always do in my dark apartment.
  • Knowing how loving and affectionate Justin is with me, I can’t wait to see how in love he will be with the baby ❤
  • I haven’t had crazy pregnancy cravings like ice cream and pickles. I have my usual cravings, but if it’s something that’s not good for me and baby, I will usually just let the craving pass or make a healthier version. Of course, this doesn’t happen 100% of the time. Some things I have been loving though are sorbets like this one. My current fav is strawberry. I’m also loving orange juice (and I make sure to drink it with my prenatal vitamin since the vitamin C helps the body to absorb the iron better). I’ve also been substituting orange juice for almond milk when I make my after dinner sorbets and they’re soo delicious. I don’t even need to add in maple syrup because the juice adds that extra sweetness. Cereal! I’ve never been the biggest fan of cereal in the morning. I just felt there were so many more interesting choices. But lately, it’s all I want. And it has to have banana in it! Of course, I’m still loving bagels and I eat them about 2-3 times a week. Sometimes more…
  • Speaking of iron, I’m supposed to take an iron supplement because of my slight anemia, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet!
  • As for packing lunches for school, I’m obsessed with coconut milk yogurt (So Delicious‘s Greek Style is my favorite), granola bars, oranges, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Amy’s frozen vegan wraps are my go-tos. Those sound like a week’s worth of lunches, but I actually pack all of them in my bag each day : ) The peanut butter and jelly sandwich usually doesn’t stay in my bag long – I usually eat half of it for breakfast and the other half with my yogurt and granola for lunch. On those days, I’ll leave the Amy’s wrap home.
  • I like the Honest company’s prenatal vitamin because it’s made with whole-food based ingredients.
  • The midwives at my birthing center are a lot more strict than I am with this pregnancy and they require me to take all of these classes like breastfeeding and natural childbirth. I suppose when she was telling me to register for these I thought she was just suggesting them; however, at my last appointment I found out she was dead serious and I felt like a student getting in trouble by the teacher. So long story short, I have my breastfeeding class on Wednesday evening and made the childbirth education class for April. Sometimes I need a push in the right direction because I tend to take quite the laissez-faire approach to life! Another thing I was supposed to do was find myself a pediatrician, so if any of you local gals/guys like yours, I’d love to hear from you!
  • I am still going to the gym about 3-4 times a week; however, the feeling is not as rewarding since I’m sweating way less and just getting bigger. I continue to go though for the long term benefits and because it does help boost my energy and keep everything else in check…digestion, mood swings, obesity (ha!)…
  • Would love to hear from anyone who can relate – my skin gets itchy/tingly at nighttime. A few times I had to get up and take a shower just to stop myself from going insane. I’ve read up on it but most accounts are about itchiness in contained areas, like the stomach and breasts. This is not the case for me as my whole body becomes irritated and I’m just curious if anyone else knows what I’m talking about…
  • Now that I’m a couple of weeks into my third trimester, I do feel a bit more fatigued than my second trimester, but I’m still able to go to sleep early so this isn’t such a calamity for me.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup cacao powder
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Steps:

  1. Blend the dates until gooey. Soaking them for 30 minutes helps create a creamier mixture.
  2. Combine the date mixture with the chopped pecans and form into clusters.
  3. Melt the oil and combine it with the cacao and maple syrup.
  4. Dip the clusters into the chocolate sauce and refrigerate for about an hour. Repeat the dipping for an extra chocolatey sauce!

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Snickers Ice Cream Squares and a Balanced Bella Baby – Oh Boy!

img_3444It’s been a beautiful fall and winter and we’re super excited for the spring when we get to meet our beautiful balanced baby! Knock on wood, it’s been a very smooth pregnancy thus far. There were a couple of weeks of slight queasiness, the sixth to eighth week mark to be exact, but luckily it happened in the later afternoon, once I was home from work. See? Smart baby already. However, even that wasn’t too severe – I lost my appetite and just couldn’t stand the smell of certain foods, mainly, whatever Justin was cooking!

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We also found out the sex and we’re having a boy! Coming up with names has been…interesting. I have my favorites…Justin says things like Homer and Archimedes, so there are still a few kinks in that department…

All those baby websites were right on the money; the first trimester was definitely filled with exhaustion and plenty of extra early bedtimes. We went to Barbados in September, during my sixth week of pregnancy, and I was asleep by 8:00 every night. (And that was considered late, but I was on vacation…) Now that I just entered my sixth month, my energy is back and I love feeling all of those kicks and movements. When I lay down at night, and I’m sure most of you who’ve experienced this can agree, the baby thinks he’s on a bouncy castle having the time of his life – and it’s the best feeling ever.

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In Barbados : )

I’m still working out about 3-5 times a week, but at a more moderate pace. I’ve substituted running with walking on a high (10-15) resistance, and I’m still doing the bike and elliptical with a 14-17 resistance. I’ve noticed that I’m not sweating as much as I used to, but it still feels good to move my body, and it definitely helps with the whole digestion process!

Preparing Roscoe ; )
Preparing Roscoe ; )

Even before pregnancy, I’ve been mindful of the chemicals in beauty products thanks to my friend Krsitina and her company Beautycounter. You can read the article I posted about such toxins here. One study that has stuck with me is the finding of hundreds of chemicals found in a baby’s umbilical cord blood. I try to use as many natural products as possible. A favorite of mine is jojoba oil! This stuff is awesome. I use it as a moisturizer, but it’s also excellent for hair treatments. You can read more about its benefits here. I’m not always able to use natural, from the earth ingredients, but I at least always make sure the things I put on my body, face, and hair are free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates (and are not tested on animals!).  Some products I order online, but others, like Alba Botanica, can be found in places like Target and Whole Foods.

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I recently left my gynecologist for a midwifery group in Brooklyn. I’m very happy with them and their philosophy, so I’ll make sure to keep you posted on that! How about you? I’m very interested in hearing about your pregnancy journey and/or tips, stories, or comments you may have, so please do share!

But enough about me. Let’s talk chocolate. And peanuts. And cashew nougat. And ooey gooey caramel. These snicker-esque squares are made of all-natural ingredients and are completely raw (except for mine – because I used roasted peanuts!). I’ve made “caramel” in the past, but not like this. I finally tried soaking the dates before blending them, which did make them creamier, but adding a splash of almond milk took this caramel to a whole new level. Like many layered desserts, these took some time, but I highly recommend trying them out.

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Ingredients:

Nougat 

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • optional: 1 tsp maca root powder (for extra malt-iness flavor!)

Caramel

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk

Topping

  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 2/3 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Steps:

  1. Cover the cashews with filtered water and soak for 3-4 hours.
  2. Cover the dates with filtered water and soak for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the cashews. In a blender, mix the nougat ingredients together. Smooth the mixture onto the bottom of a pan (8″x5″). Freeze for at least an hour.
  4. Add the dates to a food processor, peeling off any additional flaky skin that may have accumulated. Slowly mix in the water and almond milk. Continue blending until creamy; you may need to push down the mixture with a spoon and continue blending.
  5. Sprinkle on the peanuts into a single layer.
  6. Place back in freezer while you prepare the chocolate topping.
  7. When ready, pour the chocolate mixture on the top, smoothing everything out.
  8. Freeze for at least an hour.

 

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Berry Crisp

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Not much to do here today since this city is covered in a foot and a half of snow…and that’s fine by me! I’m always cold, and my thermostat doesn’t want to go past 70, so what am I to do? Turn the oven on and bake of course! I wanted to make a cobbler, and was really hoping I would have frozen peaches in the freezer just so I could pretend I was a southern belle and call this recipe a Peach Cobbler. But I didn’t. This recipe would also be delicious with strawberries, but since my car is buried and the mayor declared a state of emergency, I didn’t think it was too necessary.

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Ingredients:

Filling

  • 1 cups blueberries
  • 1 cups mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp (1/4 cup) sugar – I used raw
  • 2 Tbsp (1/4 cup) any flour – oat, rice, whole wheat, etc.
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice (or other acidic juice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

*This recipe has a thicker crust and less filling; if you’d like more fruits and juices, double the filling recipe.

Topping

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of the filling ingredients together.
  3. In a blender, mix the almonds, oats, and walnuts together.
  4. In a medium bowl, add the mixture from the blender along with all other topping ingredients.
  5. Scoop the filling into a casserole dish (9 x 5,  8 x 8, or whatever you have on hand – the smaller the dish, the deeper the filling layer will be) in one smooth layer.
  6. Add the topping in one smooth layer and bake for 35 minutes, uncovered. Enjoy!

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